Monday, August 6, 2007

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Some ramblings and peeves about "grade levels" and children who "do no wrong"

Some homeschooling moms out there rush so quickly to announce what grade their children are in. Well, that is fine and dandy, until you realize that your child, whom you have placed in a "grade" appropriate to her age (regardless of the fact that she does above grade level in most subjects), is the same age as the child who is now supposedly 2 grades above her.

I find this pressure that moms feel and exert on their children disturbing. Let's look into the future for a moment: In 10+ years, will your 16-year-old child be ready for college? Leave the intellectual aspects aside for now. Will he/she be able to socially and emotionally handle college? Now, I've met some pretty mature homeschooled kids in my lifetime, but I would not send any of those children off to college early. (I am not referring to dual-enrollment classes, here.) But if a parent says a child is two grades above where his/her "age" would say, I think the parent should responsibly have some good evidence to back it up. I mean, a substantiated test or something of that sort. Otherwise, it is blowing a bunch of hot air. I deal with enough of that from some non-homeschoolers, though sadly, I'm seeing it more and more in the homeschooling community. I realize we as homeschoolers are all human as well, but I wish this urgency to push our kids to the very top was not so incredible.

I think these parents need to consider the curriculum they are using, and if it is challenging enough for the child. I was using a certain set of readers with my oldest dd, and she sped through them. I know her reading level is somewhere in the 4th grade range right now, but I refuse to say she is in 4th grade because of it. She just reads really well. Sure, it is an advantage, but she is not capable of handling some of the more complicated concepts in math or science yet. She is also not emotionally mature enough to handle issues that may be discussed in social studies. Now, I don't mean to project my daughter's emotional maturity or abilities on other children, but I've been around other so-called "advanced" children. They can be just as socially immature as the next kid their same age. I feel that these parents are promoting a need for the kids to be "better" than everyone. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't tout the "everyone gets a participation trophy" approach to life, but there is also the opposite end of the spectrum... the "you are so much better and smarter than everyone else" attitude that may be dangerously instilled into the sub conscience of our kids. I won't say it is a guarantee for all children with early placement, but it is something parents should guard against. I am also not one to promote mediocrity. I do believe there has to be a healthy balance of attitude. Do your best, don't assume you are the best, and don't get too caught up in the details. Later in life, hard work, effort, and true accomplishment mean more than a grade on a transcript or piece of paper.

Now on to the other peeve: the "my children do no wrong" attitude. I have seen so many more homeschoolers guilty of this one than the former. In fact, turning their eye to their own children, while being the first to chastise another child. I'll be the first to admit my kids are bad. I know they are. They drive me nuts! But all kids mess up, and they don't just do it at home. They act up in public too, when you least want them to, and they are fully capable of embarrassing you. I don't really have a lot to expound upon this topic, but I just wanted to get it off my chest. Perhaps it will help me keep my own kids in check.

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